Spare the nail, spoil the weekend!!

Grade 1- Aruna Ma’am: “You, there. Why are you biting you nails? Din’t you parents teach you any good habits?” (Yeah, Right! At the age of six, my parents should have practically treated me like Arjun on the battle field and enlightened me with the knowledge of the Bhagvath Gita)

Grade 2- Class monitor: “Chiiii…. Sahaja… You are biting your nails. Wait! Your name is going to Seema Ma’am.”  (Do that, and you are not getting my precious paper greeting card on your birthday)

Grade 3- Uma Ma’am: “Sahajaaaaa… Dirty girl! How many times have I told you not to bite your nails. Next time I see you doing it, I’m going to hit you on your knukles.” (Huh! Did you just forget the fact that I am the class “Social Studies topper” and also the effort I put in to decorate the classroom on your birthday?)

So on, and so forth. I wonder what’s the big deal with biting MY OWN nails. Mind you, I only bite them (and liberate them), I do not eat them.

According to various studies, it has been proved that the only live part of a nail is the one lying beneath the skin. The dead deserve peace, why don’t we give them that. You grow them, clean them, polish them, paint them, honor them, and waste half your savings on them during the weekend. The growing trend of salons dedicated specifically to nail care coupled with stupid people giving a shit to it makes me bite my own in awe when I read about their statistics. Go to Google maps and click on search nearby for places to eat. I did that once and found six restaurants near my home and 14 freaking nail salons. Man! Are you kidding me? Do they deserve that kind of importance? Probably the next time all you ‘nail growers” are hungry I should just serve you a plate of nails and even if one of the salon runs out of nails, you would definitely have another 13 out there. You would then think beyond this pedicure/manicure shit and demand for more technically life useful resources in your locality. I remember having 2 other ‘nail biting’ counter parts at school. When either of them upload their pictures on facebook, I cannot but look directly at their fingers. One of them, still has nail-bitten fingers. This immediately brings a satisfying smile to my heart; the other however, now seems to have beautiful fingers with long (polished) nails. (Deep inside my heart I would like to believe that those are fake ones she would have purchased for 20 bucks at a nearby salon, they are so accessible any day, any place now)

I resort to biting my nails when I’m nervous, happy, while reading a book, watching the climax of a film or series, and even when I’m simply bored. After all, they are my nails on my very own fingers. One boring evening, I happened to be watching a Bollywood flick: Chak De. The hockey match towards the end of the film got me tensed and automatically my nail-biting began. One brave friend of mine, hit me on my hand and said, “Why do you keep biting your nails?” I would have liked to scream, “What is your fucking problem. I mean, seriously!”. Okay! I have a habit. It’s not like all you smart humans out there are perfect souls.

I have also come across weird men who on the pretext of behaving like gentlemen say unbelievable stuff like, “The first thing I notice in a girl are her fingers and feet. She should have beautiful fingers.” Oh please, enough now! Whether you admit it or not, we actually know what you notice at the first instant. But if you still want to pretend like you are Pawan Kalyan from Tholiprema, staring at Keerti Reddy’s beautiful feet and falling in love with her, suit and cheat yourself. And, what really is this pretty nails thingy, like your moronic male ego is going to let you bend down and kiss your girls feet when you are actually making love. I’d rather suggest you thank your stars if your girl has the nail-biting habit, you have one issue less to worry about when she is driving you bankrupt with her expenditure.

Well, I believe I need to stop typing right now. Its rather uncomfortable typing with one hand while the other is busy with my natural nail cutter. 😛

Mango People… Mango Pickle…

Although you hear me rave about Pepper Mushroom from Punjabi Dhaba on Mount Road, Paneer Tikka from Angeethi on Banjara Hills, Palak soup from Athiti in Ameerpet, and Gobi Manchurian from a hundred and one odd places, in my opinion these appetizers are mere soldiers in the mighty army. This invincible army, in the kingdom of food is solely ruled by a supreme master – His Highness Mango Pickle. The very thought of a plate filled with hot rice, ghee, and this spicy superstar tingles and lures my senses to the “jagrathavastha” with a demand to satisfy the needs of both, my stomach and my senses. I hereby declare “Mamidikaya Ooragaayi” as the outstanding appetizer, main course and the dessert (the mango piece of course ;-)).

My dad owned a mango groove, and when I was about 4 years old, one pleasant morning my cousins dragged me into it against my will and I had my first bee sting. My pain turned into anger and hatred for the fruit. As a kid, every summer my mother took me mango shopping. I forcefully accompanied her to the “older part of the town”, where the ideal mangoes could be found. The entire pain of walking through dirty lanes where auto drivers honked annoyingly, and waiting to have your mangoes chopped to the desired size, and the rehearsed ritual of buying new spices for the occasion of pickle making always seemed mysterious to me. What kind of sadistic pleasure did my mom and grand mom find in mercilessly preserving tiny mango pieces in loads of spices and salt? Why weren’t they gracious enough to let the pour souls ripen in a month or two and let us have the beautiful yellow fruit? This kind of negligence to “torturous bliss” probably developed because as kids we were denied the pleasure of having too much pickle. And, like they did us a great favor, the elders would graciously say, “Eat your food, I’ll wash the pickle piece and give it to you”. The unnecessary drama put up by my school teachers was unforgivable. We were practically not allowed to have even little pickle gravy until we turned into 5th graders. It made me ponder if Grade 5 stimulated taste buds to withstand spice. Huh!

For the very first time, this “aam fruit” caught my sincere attention in Grade 3. “Tall Vijju Ma’am”, our English teacher was reading out to us “The Man and The Mangoes” from the Gulmohar Graded English Course. After listening to a sad story about a poor old man’s owes in an attempt to sell his basket of mangoes, she decided to go ahead with dictation. This particular teacher used a very innovative approach towards teaching us how to spell words. For example, in Grade 3, spelling the word “together” correctly was a big deal for us 8 year olds. She asked us to write “to”, “get”, “her” as three different words and then write them together. So, on this drowsy day, she asked us to write “man” in our notebooks followed by a “goes” and join them “to get her” and we got a “MANGOES”. And, so it stuck. The beauty of this word, in my perspective makes you immensely happy for two reasons. One being the mango pickle itself, and the other being the optimistic joy you get when you hear that a “MAN goes”.  😛

Here is the extent of embarrassment that I went through just for a slice of mango pickle. Like I said earlier, we were served pickle only from Grade 5, always. This particular episode, however took place when I was in Grade 4. All the lucky stars of the 35 girls in my class, got together and were in a happy disco dance mood perhaps, our H.M Aunty ordered that we could be served pickle for lunch that day. Red pickle was always served to us from a small yellow bucket, this bucket seemed to me like a path to liberation or loose motion (I don’t care ;-)). My joy knew no bounds and after a true heart /stomach filling meal, I carefully took my very own pickle piece and washed it cautiously in the dining hall pantry, held it like precious gold (very close to my heart) and made a dash to the girls dormitory. I began nibbling the piece little by little, with loads of relish. Even before I was done we were sent to bed to take a short nap. Selfish that I was, I decided to keep half of the piece for the next day. Now this whole thing had to be done slyly as bringing food outside the dining room was considered a punishable offense. Thinking of many possible ways to hide my treasure, I sought the refuge of my pillow cover at last. My shelf wouldn’t be raided and I could escape with ease. And that is what exactly I did. It WORKED. The next night, when everyone was asleep I put my hand into the pillow cover and removed the half-eaten piece of mango pickle. Trust me, it was one of the most gorgeous thing I had ever tasted. Probably because of the extreme dryness, or the stale factor (I do not know), this tasted like immortal nectar that all the Asuras fight for. I chewed on it like it was gum for a while, and loved every bit of it before the swallowing part.

I only wish this was the end! That tiny piece had woken up in me, the devil of desire for a dry mango piece. I decided that  it would be my protocol each time we were served mango pickle. Two months later, another festive occasion came by and our dear H.M bestowed upon us the boon so restricted to the “big sisters and brothers”. The same steps were followed. Everything went on smoothly until the party time. We had some sort of a quiz that night and I was one of the last ones to finish it before I headed upstairs to my bed. As I approached my bed, there were a group of people around staring at it. My classmate came running towards me and said, “It was weird, there were red ants all over your bed. I did not know what to do and began dusting it and there was a dried up pickle piece. Hey! And Geetha Ma’am wants to talk to you about this”. I went heart broken to meet my class teacher and the rest was history. The royal shouting and punishment was less painful that the pining over the lost piece.

As I grew up to be a “big sister”, we were legally served pickle at least once a week. Of course, we illegally had it about 2-3 times a week. The yellow bucket was always placed on a table at the teachers counter, and each time we were sent to sit on their side of the dining room we stole it, lots of it. Yes, I am a proud pickle steal-er. If mango people are not crazy about mango pickle, what else should they be crazy about. 😀

A Stranger in the City…

Having always believed that I have the right to let my mind race into the wildest possible imagination, and being a drama queen by innate nature, I tend to suppose that I could be in weird situations. This imaginary circumstance package definitely comes with a place, an i-pod, often food and clothes. One of my favorite ones is a one that flashes across my mind when I fight with a very close friend. I would want to “run away from the recognizable world” to a beach in Brazil, just listen to some music and stare at the ocean, wondering if my friend would be missing me. When I think of somebody I hate, I think of applying lots of coal and grease on their face and cutting them into tiny bits and throwing the pieces into a well (Yes, I said wildest possible, remember??). However, there has been a frequent one that is about me in a very confused, post-graduate phase. This one always ends up as a very cold evening on the Brooklyn Bridge, with me in a black coat, holding hot coffee from Starbucks in my hand and thousands of things running on my mind while my overwhelmed gaze is fixed on the New York City crowd. However I surprisingly feel endangered and privacy deprived when any of these imaginations go somewhere close to reality.

Keeping imagination, the truth, and other tertiary concerns aside, this was my first day as a New Jersian. I moved into a room in an independent house. The girl who had posted the ad for a roommate had informed me that it was a 4 bedroom house, and so there would be 3 other girls with whom I had to share the kitchen. Me and my friend, moved in one late evening and decided to give ourselves some rest and went to bed immediately. The room was pretty hot, apparently here the houses do not have the centralized air conditioning facility unlike the houses in the southern states. We were forced to wake up at 8 o’clock the next morning as the table fan automatically stopped working. It turned out that it wasn’t just the fan, but there wasn’t power absolutely in any part of the house. I was told that I needed to go to the basement and check on a few switches for some sort of a voltage drop. Never having lived in a house with a basement, I went downstairs with a torch light. There were two very dark and spooky rooms and from the set up I realized that there were people who actually lived in these rooms. In a basement, Can you believe that? There was a bed that hadn’t been made and the rooms were so tightly sealed that even a ray of sunlight couldn’t pass through. I wondered how people could managed to breathe down here. It gave me the feeling of being locked up in a suffocated, dark mental asylum.The entire scenario reminded of Gothika combined with Krishna Cottage. After some wrestling with the switchboard (wondering which one may probably shock me to death and make me rot right down there) and nothing working out I headed back to the light in the living room. Since we were practically disconnected from the outside world, no internet, minimum charge on the phone, and the electric stove not working, we decided to get to some cleaning. Yes, our room required liberation from roaches. Four hours later, famished and dirty, we decided to have pizza home delivered. I had no energy to grumble about the pizza arriving 40 minutes late followed by the lineman who fixed the power issue (our land lady hadn’t paid the utility bill on time, so the cancellation). Some time around 5 0′ clock in the evening, a car pulled over in front of our home and a girl stepped out. Watching through the window, my friend said, “Wonder which part of the house she would be living in?”. Laughing it off like it were a joke, we waited for a minute or two. The girl came in and during the course of our conversation, she told us that she lives in the attic. Oh yes, that practically made the house ‘full’.

I am fully prepared now, for any extra creatures, both living, dead, and extra-terrestrial, there wouldn’t be any element of surprise. Sometimes walking through the streets gives me the feeling I get when I am shopping for books in Koti. This place has a cult of its own. Busy life, dirty streets, cold houses, and noisy streets. No offense intended, but New Yorkers often remind me of Mumbaikars. Having said that, I would like to believe that the purest of gold has to pass through the hottest of flames. Kudos to our Krishna Cottage.

LB “Double” U…

Go fall, come winter. Go winter, come spring, so on and so forth. Seasons, or quarters in particular din’t really seem to make a difference until lately. Perhaps the course of a true Masters student’s life is rather restricted to a particular circle. We are either caught up with courses and lab work or events, part-time jobs, and potlucks. And woosh! Life has taken 10 weeks away from you without your knowledge. Things from A to Z, and everything in between happen during this period. The impact hits rather late. Mind you, often the impact is good. Having drawn more pleasure than pain from it, I would like to lovingly call it LB “Double” U, or Life Before Undetermined Unemployment. 😛

The applause I received right after I came to the US was the best one I could ever receive. Unforgettable and precisely more unforgivable. Moving on from morons to Math 541, I made one of my best friends here (Thanks to Matlab). I often wonder what took the 12 of us to get together when we practically were neighbors. I recall going on a 3 day trip to Florida and being bullied by a “frienemy”. Oh, how I hated her then. One very important and advantageous aspect of LBUU is its unlimited extent of the ability to make mistakes. There are no standard set of rules, responsibilities, immigration issues, tormenting credit card statements, insurance policies, taxes, healthcare plans, investments, paying bills on time, and grocery lists. Most importantly, there is no undue pressure from your parents to bring home their future son-in-law. 😀  Life seems so much simpler and easier. The mistakes we make then, we get an easy chance to learn from them and rectify them, to an unpredictable extent of course.

Being single in its literal sense, is so confusing. I had friends who constantly paid my bills on time and  kept in mind that we should never run out of milk or toilet paper. The saga of watching weird shows like Rakhi ka Swayamvar, cooking authentic Indian food to celebrate no occasion, eating homemade cake (with nuts) on plastic plates, sharing limited yet delicious machoorian, putting off cooking to watch Kitni Mohabbat Hain, long (really long) and meaningless conversations and petty arguments on staircases, silly sticky notes to show that you are pissed at somebody, sharing episodes and downloading illegal torrent files, the tiring act of cooking and cleaning on the same day, watching a series of Manirathnam’s movies in a row, starting to watch a series and making your friends addicted to it too, playing inappropriate and loud music, the pride in bringing home the 1st bottle of delicious scotch, borrowing an onion, a cup of milk or a few jalapenos from your neighbor, making fun of unreasonable customer demands, laughing at stupid jokes, crying, consoling, grumbling, giggling, gossiping, common enemies, breaking mirrors, the innate curiosity about who is dating whom, having a favorite girlfriend with whom you chit-chat into the night, fighting with her and still being in love with her 3 months later, taking impulsive decisions at 3.30 AM, the practiced photo session for graduation, unnecessary and necessary shopping in the mall, the memorable birthday parties and gifts (with balloons on the ceiling and intentionally purchased eggs, milk and tomatoes), AC that relentlessly refused to work, girls night outs, dressing up and putting on make up to just take pictures, mixing lots of rice, ghee and pickle and eating from a common plate, being possessive about ring tones, dozing away to land on your friends shoulder in the middle of a boring film, a trip to a sober city that turns out to be unlimited fun owing to the company, one particular melody that you sing in chorus all day long, handling the GPS, wanting to be a part of the conversation happening in the back seat and trying hard not to piss off the person who is driving, anger, jealousy, hatred, not talking to each other, the drama during that period, the people who put up with our meaningless theories, midnight walks/hangouts, late night maggie treats, debating on which restaurant to eat in when the available options are but 5,  the ease in being able to talk to your friends by directly barging into their rooms rather than employing a chat window or webcam, the pain as you watch each person move out of your apartment, recalling this kind of stuff and smiling at it and I could go on and on if you let me. Although I have moved ahead and away from there, my heart still aches when I see a junior put up a picture of OUR staircase on Facebook. Yes, it does, very much. And if all these memories flood back to you when you hear 219/119, you would agree with me too.

OLEV : ______??

I was about 6 years old, when I took my entrance exam at Sri Sathya Sai Higher Secondary School. I vividly remember being coached for an entire year for it. I excelled in Math then, yes I really did. Basically I was good at anything and everything. I believe that was due to the enthusiastic childish spirit that refused to take “NO” for an answer. My mom often narrates one particular episode to most of my friends. This happened when I was in my 1 st grade. I had secured the 2 nd rank in my class. I couldn’t bear defeat, God knows why, the “it’s all a part of life” was absent in my dictionary. I forced my mom to take me to the HM and ask her why I had stood second instead of first. After a little bit of illegal and unauthorized digging into the exam papers, my HM told me that I had lost the first place to another girl, by one mark. ONE single mark. Oh yes, and I remember my mistake too. I had gotten my “umbrella” spelling wrong. Mine had a ‘single L’. Perhaps this incident played a major role in impregnating into me, the fact, that the value of a small, minute element often has a large, inversely proportional consequence.

Coming back to the entrance exam, it was a beautiful day in May 1991, and we were seated in the AB dormitory. I was given a set of Math and English questions to solve. I set to work immediately, with a practiced Om symbol on the top of my exam sheet. There I was ready to give my best, to make a dream my mom and me shared for one whole year, come true. I went through, solving and answering, almost everything with genuine ease. Finally, there it stood in front of me, a question I haven’t been able to answer till date. It was in the category of  ‘set the jumbled words right’. OLEV. I stared at it for a moment, blinked at it for two, sent memory soldiers on a tour in my head, nothing worked. Of course, I wouldn’t give up. I had already tasted the bitter fruits of a single mark. Time flew, refreshments came and went, interviews were done with, and almost when the time was up, my vain despair turned into hot tears. I couldn’t let go. And, so much like god sent, Vasanthi aunty came by, saw me crying and looked into my paper, wiped my tears and whispered into my ears, “It’s LOVE”. My joy knew no bounds, I quickly scribbled it on the paper, and marched out with a proud smile on my face. Also, completely clueless about the magnanimity of this word, I wondered in my head, why would a spiritual institution been so interested in asking a question about some crap they show in the films between a hero and a heroine. Yes, at the age of six, love perceptually meant that to me. And I did a shhhhh!! to my head and went to meet my mom outside the silver sarvadharma gate. The sshhhh came because my mom had strictly told me that talking or thinking about movies there was a huge crime.

I’ve grown to understand that love is something more than the feeling between two people running behind trees in a song sequence. I’ve come across different levels, and types of it. I’ve been with people who do insanely crazy things with the excuse of being madly in love and also with people who think love is a mere enormous commercial “word” which in its true sense doesn’t exist or have a meaning. I have experienced love in practically all its forms, right from its Divine aspect to being in immense love with a baby boy who isn’t my own. I have blushed about it, laughed in it, mourned over it and mocked at it.  After everything said, felt, and done, why does LOVE still appear to me, jumbled?? Why?

Choice…

Owing to available diversity in almost everything, Is making a choice a pleasure or a pain? The way we chisel our life often depends on the choices we make, the decisions we take. Knowingly or unknowingly choice has its own, often unacknowledged, role to play in any individuals life. Most people do not have a single protocol that they would like to  follow. I definitely fall among the ‘most people’. Okay now, I know for sure that the first thing I want to drink in the morning is a cup of hot filtered coffee, but making a choice begins as early as during the breakfast time. I rarely have a gut instinct for this morning ritual. I stand in the kitchen for a while playing in my mind, the pictures of flavored oatmeal, eggs and bread. The game isn’t over when I choose one of them. It moves on to oatmeal: with strawberries, peaches or blueberries (?) (I spontaneously ignore the banana’s) :P, eggs: scrambled, poached, bulls eye, or boiled (?), bread: plain, toasted, or sandwiched (?). Phew! Crazy right? Can you imagine the chaos in my head when I stand in the closet staring at my wardrobe and wondering what to wear on a date? I’m am not sure if I’d be considered judgmental but I would like to assume that this entire confused criteria is a “girl thing” (it may not be totally true). Moving away from trivial choices like food and clothing, often life’s journey puts you at crossroads where you have to make life altering decisions. I vividly remember making TWO such choices and in detail below, is one of them. 🙂

Exactly a decade ago, this very month, I had to commit to an area of study. Throughout my childhood, my career dreams varied outrageously between becoming a doctor (cardiologist), a lawyer, a politician, a writer or an actor. Engineering was exempted from my list of choicest careers attributing to my fear/hatred for Math. So, in June 2001, I CHOOSE to stick to the surgeon calling in my head and took a major in Biology, Physics and Chemistry. I had seemed to turn a deaf ear to the threats of failures, late nights on over turned buckets (under the yellow bulb), no video shows, study during darshans, sleeplessness (dozing during prayers or at every other chance) and enormous tension that could cause your head to explode. Anyways, I dwell on those 2 years as the most memorable ones at school. We were deliberately divided into the PC girls (Physics, Chemistry) and the AE girls (Accounts, Economics). Whichever group we belonged to, we felt an upsurge of joy during the Sanskrit and English classes for two reasons. One, we would get to meet our AE girls, (we couldn’t adjust to the division after 10 years of togetherness) and two, we would get 40 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. 😉 I always loved Biology, the Chemistry teacher and hated Physics for all reasons. I still remember gulping my heart down my throat and tasting a few salty tears when I opened my Physics notebook to check my 1st Unit Test marks with shivering hands (I had scored a 27/50). 😦 I never fared well in Physics,  ever, even with high doses of night outs and night food (bread with sweet malai). My choice also deserves a certain amount of credit for helping me realize who my “bestest friends” are. Together we cried, together we laughed and together we fought to achieve our respective goals (I am reminded of how a friend, Natasha always consoled me when I scored low in Physics and I did the same for her Math). Anyways such was the pressure that I still continue to dream about giving my 12th grade boards all over again and I wake up startled and sweaty. Also, I have learnt that standing by a choice is as hard a making one!

All in all, 10 years have gone by, and I am proud that I did learn to stick with the sciences despite the hardships. I feel like a cockroach, an ace adapter and a survivor. 😛 Perhaps not exactly to the surgeon part, but at least to being a researcher. At the current moment, I am an unemployed graduate, with no sort of regrets. My position is similar to a man from my dad’s favorite book, Maha Prasthanam (particularly in the poem “Sandhya Samasyalu” meaning evening hassles) by Sri Sri  (a Telugu poet). My dad used to read this poem out to me from time to time and I remember being intrigued by this young unemployed man who is practically penniless and yet goes to Udipi Sri Krishna hotel one evening, and there he is caught in a dilemma, to make a CHOICE between a plate of Semyia Idli and Badam Halwa (perceptually more expensive). Well, the choices we make and the pain we undergo to abide by them! Actually it is justified, life is not always a bed of roses right? It sure has its worth, cause at the end of the story, we are the ones who solely rule our lives and it is in our hands that our choices and happiness lie. I’m glad, I choose what I choose. 🙂

Note: I must acknowledge my good friend Deepika Gurung who gave me this wonderful idea to blog on choosing our majors. She was my English/Sanskrit study partner too. Will always love you girl.

Yes, Indeed… The Gods Must be Crazy!!

Yugas (certain time period according to the Hindu mythology) have come and gone. We believe, there has been the Sathya Yuga, Thretha Yuga, Dwapara Yuga and the current era- The Kali Yuga. We have read from our holy books and learnt from our older people that there have been 9 avatars and God will manifest again for the last and 10 th time, during the Kali Yuga (supposedly a man on a white horse with a sword in his hand). Would we humans, who are considered the most intellectual animals owing to our ability of discriminating between right and wrong, have undoubted trust in the descent of God to earth? How would we like to see our God on earth? Do we want to see Him with four hands, three heads, riding a horse? If God ever incarnated thus, with a Thrishul in one hand and a sword in the other, would we be brave enough to approach him without the fear of death (because, knowingly or unknowingly WE ALL have sinned at some point in our life). And, God really concerned about us, if He happens to come in a human form, can we offer Him anything more than a parasite called doubt?

In the bygone times, the society was infected with one Ravana (who was blinded by his lust for Sita), one Kamsa (who was tainted with greed and anger) and one Hiranyakashipu (who suffered with supreme ego). These asuras (demons) met their end in the hands of  Rama, Krishna and Narasimha respectively. Today, we have in every human, shades of these asuras. We are constantly wavering between Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (attachment), Madha (pride) and Matsarya (envy). What should be our destiny be then? Should God take ‘n’ number of forms to slay each one of us? Well, God must have just decided otherwise, to cure all of us with the strongest weapon in His possession; LOVE. So, yes God MUST be crazy! Or else why would He be on a wild goose chase trying to lead people (He created) to tread the path to Moksha (liberation). Little did He know that we, so called civilized humans, can offer him nothing more than this parasite called doubt.

Faith, more than a mere word, is pregnant with enormous abilities. It can move mountains, wake up people from the dead and cure cancer. Yes, faith can! Love, more than a mere word, can keep you happy, make you fly across oceans and turn water into wine. If we could just turn these two intense emotions towards God, our life would be Bliss (Ananda). But are we ready? No, we have something else to offer; this parasite called doubt.

Most people are skeptical about God. Does he exist? Can He hear me when I visit the temple/church/mosque? Does He know I am lying to my mom/dad? Can He feel my pain? The concept of Godliness isn’t limited to a particular form, a room or a place for that matter. God is beyond time, place, the body, and the mind. God is the Atma in us, not to be seen but to be experienced.

Ever since I began to dwell on the concept of God, say when I was 5 years old, the only picture that came to my mind was Sathya Sai Baba. If you form an immediate opinion that my stay in His school for 12 years might have caused this, let me make it clear, if the opinion was rubbed on me, it could only be done so for a while. Eventually, we grow up and learn to think on our own. Faith and love, are both unreasonable and unpredictable. They happen to you with such an intensity that you cannot help but surrender yourself. To me, there is one God and He is omnipresent. Such is my faith, that I find it foolish if people fight over different forms of God. I have been to temples, churches and mosques. I am proud to say that I see Sai Krishna, Sai Rama, Eshu Sai, Allah Sai and Buddha Sai. Baba never formed a cult that ought to be followed, it was love, love and love all the way. His Life was His message. He taught us that we have in each of us, God. He is present in us, above us, below us and around us. The true definition of Aham Brahmasmi. He rather than announcing himself as God, asked us to find the Atman within us. It is only when we find in ourselves, and in those around us, the spark of Divinity, can pure and permanent Ananda be attained. Divinity just shows up, all the time, be it in a friend who cares about you when you are in need, your mother who cooks your favorite meal, a cashier who comes out of her way to help you at the bank, a bus driver who drives you back home safely, are all forms God.

It indeed does surprise me, that the media challenges the reputation of a person who never asked for charity, or hero worship. Journalism has sanctity and that, we have sent to the dogs. Journalists are supposed to carry news as it is, not to channelize public opinion, not to rub their disbelief on people. We devotees are here, still trying to cope up with the fact that He is not physically present with us anymore and this is the way the media plays with public emotions. Whatever happened to unbiased journalism? Will it ever be possible in our country? If all Baba cared was the wealth, why din’t He leave a will? Why didn’t He walk around wearing jewels like a bag of gold? We are ready to let go of hundreds of politicians, business men and actors who have black money in weird, unbelievable numbers, yet here we are like chickens running behind donations. I am willing to pay a lump sum amount to anyone interested in  showing to the people, the social work that was done and that continues to be done by Sai. But hell no, as humans all we seek is the downfall of good name. Perhaps, people are too sophisticated to trust the advent of God in Kali Yuga and choose to ignore the good that happened. Well, my definition of God is a person who comes to your help even without you asking, showers immeasurable love on you and constantly ensures you that He is there with you always no matter what, when your so called kith and kin behave nothing but humane. I would like to say here, that not even a blade of grass moves without the will of God, He is the “Natana Suthradhari” and we are mere puppets in His play. I ask, do get your facts rights before you make meaningless allegations. And if you have never been to or experienced Parthi ever, or donated a penny of your savings, you are disqualified to make an opinion. Pray, my outburst pertains to a reaction you would give if I told you, your mother or father were actually not your parents.

Whatever said and done, each person is entitled to have a point of view and I am nobody to impose my faith on people, but if my faith is questioned or offended I will voice out my feelings. People need not believe that He is God, but at least learn to respect the man for what He did. Who educated me free of cost, right from my books to my toothpaste/brush for 12 years – Baba. Who has given water and been giving water to drought struck districts in AP and TN, including my city (Anantapur) -Baba. Who offered free medical treatment to thousands of people I know and I don’t-Baba. So yes, He is my God, an embodiment of love. I could go on endlessly, and even if all the trees on earth were made into paper and all the water in the oceans into ink, it would be a challenge to comprehend Divinity.

Well, readers I have found my God in the Kali Yuga, if you are an atheist, I’m not sure what exactly to say, but to the others, “You can still wait for your God to descend (with due respect), riding a white horse, with a sword in His hand and (if He comes) in Him too I will see my God”.  For, He taught me to flush out this parasite called doubt, and love unconditionally. He shall protect me as the eyelids protect the eye. Period!

I Luv (my) Hate Storys…

Girlfriends! :-* A constant factor in every girl’s life, whether rich or poor, good or bad, single or committed, heartbroken or in a complicated relation, is a girlfriend. Referring to an anonymous point of view, most love stories begin with hatred. Weirdly, most of my girl ‘love stories’ either begin with hatred or seem to have in them a period of  extreme hatred. I often tend to owe the hatred portion to my extremely passionate mood swings, outbursts of anger (often unnecessary),  in addition to the inevitable external forces of circumstance. One of MY favorite love/hate story is the one with Navya, The Jajimi in it (you would understand why I address her so, if you knew her mastery over the English language) ;-). She also forced me to blog about her.

I went to school with this hot chick for 12 years (or 12 eras as she would prefer calling it), and I always despised her (or at least I thought I did so) to a level that defines hatred with irritation. Now, think of prankster who makes rib tickling jokes that literally make you roll on the floor laughing. One of the funniest episode Navya narrated (in grade 5) was the one where she convinced her grandmom that plots on the moon were out for auction, and she better hurry if she wanted to buy some land (on the moon) at a reasonable price. Sometimes she just had to open her mouth, the way she conveyed her point, even about trivial matters, was hilarious. Are you wondering where the hatred in the story arises. Well dude, she din’t spare her grandmother, why would she spare you? 😡 So basically Navya, to me, was this creature who irritated, teased and mocked you so hard that given a chance, you would want to beat her to pulp. My wavering hatred came back every now and then, but it would reach its ultimatum when she pissed me off real hard and then imitated the way my lips move when I am yelling at her. (Oh! my lips do twist a lot when I talk).  This girl used to play with the strings of my patience, like they were those of an electric guitar. I definitely need to narrate one particular incident here. My good friend Seshupriya, had a torn bag and was desperately in search of a new one to put her books into. She made an announcement asking who could lend her a bag. Navya raises her hand and says “Hey Seshu, I have a purple bag and you can borrow it for a while”. Hmmm, a relieved Seshu asks Navya for the bag and this is what my lovely girlfriend does; draws on paper, a bag, with a purple sketch pen and proudly gives it to Seshu, saying here it is! Trust me, you don’t want to get into what followed. 😛

12 years of togetherness din’t do much, and neither of us made any effort to stay in touch. But love happened immediately when I met her 3 years later. She had become a woman, my ideal girlfriend material. 😀 Her sense of maturity, her constant concern, the ‘you can wake up me at midnight and cry, I’ll be there for you’ attitude, and almost everything along with her silly, irritating mockery, I love it all. When I am with her I realize that almost everyone laughs at others, but it takes a great deal to make jokes and laugh at yourself. Yes, my girlfriend can do that. And like all my other friends agree, she is indeed ‘the ghee’ of the meal, meaning, her presence DOES make a difference. With her we are one crazy fish market . She is a person who can constantly call me ‘Taataki’ and still be one of my best friend (I will never forget that she din’t make it for my graduation though). Navya and me, we have walked similar paths, crossed similar horizons and drowned into similar oceans, all hand in hand. 🙂 I’m as glad as glad can be, this hate story turned into love. 😉 Baby, this one is for you, you ask and it shall be granted. In my prayers, I constantly tell God, “You have given me relatives, thank you for letting me choose my friends”.

An Invention of the Rubber!

Although rubber in almost all its forms 😛 was invented before the year 1992, there was an attempt to invent a really huge, flavored and colored rubber (yes, I know we are technically supposed to call it ‘eraser’) by 7 year old researchers in one of the world’s most sanest laboratories. The scientists involved in this episode were all in grade II, and they had in them a keen urge to liberate school going kids from carrying boring, odorless white Nataraj/Non-dust/Camilin rubbers. Whether their attempt was successful or not, shouldn’t be given importance, trust me you will know why towards the end.

The first scene in this episode goes back to my grade II dormitory (the precised lab setting) when we all decided to ‘make’ a rubber that we could be proud of, to use. Well, the recipe isn’t patented but I would still like it if you didn’t copy our experimental procedure. As far as my clearest memory can go, this method was suggested by my friend Gaya (coincidentally, today is her birthday). To make a rubber, here are the ingredients you will need along with how you should use them.

The ‘top part’ of a soap case (criteria: it should not have any water outlet holes), a ‘few’ ml of your favorite shampoo, and a ‘few’ grams of your favorite talcum powder. The ‘few’ here is directly proportional to the size of the rubber you want you make and the longevity of its odor. And so, you mix all the ingredients in your soap case and (this is the most innocent part of the story) put the soap case by the window sill in your dorm to dry for a few days. Of course, if we were allowed to keep perfume with us then, I’m sure we would have been asked to add a ‘few’ drops of them too. For some nice reason, the only cosmetics we were allowed to keep in our shelves were the soap, shampoo and talcum powder, not even the toothpaste. Yes, I repeat, not even the toothpaste. Wondering how we brushed? Every morning and night, we formed a line with our tooth brush to get paste. Our Warden aunty would be seated on a silver color trunk (the ancient form of a suitcase), patiently holding each brush and ‘putting’ paste. We walked up to her each day, and said “Sairam Aunty” before and “Thank you Aunty” after. I have grown from inventing rubbers to writing board exams, passed grades and changed dormitories, but each morning she sat there, without fail, taking care of little children. Aunty is a woman of substance and everybody’s favorite. I definitely cannot confine the possibility of describing her into a single paragraph or blog. Such is her impact on me. My learning and deliberate usage of the word “picchi-vada” is a sheer attempt to be at least a little like her. I should also mention here that I have a dear friend, (name undisclosed) who had a great affinity towards eating talcum powder, Cuticura to be specific.

Hmmm, coming back to what our little scientists were working on, the mixture actually never dried up, despite lying by the window for days and days. Our plans to launch the rubber that would smell like your favorite fruit and have the shape of your favorite cartoon character (we had wonderful artists who had offered to the shaping part) had to be given up. What else can researchers do when they run out of materials and grants? Anyways, I am just glad and thankful that ‘senior scientists’ addressed this child issue with a solution, because in the future if my 7 year old kid asks me for an eraser that looks like Popeye and smells like strawberry, all I have to do is go to a nearby store (rather than sit by a soap case at the window :-D).

Confessions of a Chocoholic.

If God deserves credit for creating man, then man deserves the same for coming up with the chocolate. My love for chocolate goes back to when I was 5 years old. Someone I cannot clearly remember just decided to make me smile and offered me a bar in a color that was neither my favorite (yes! I liked Pink), nor appealing. Little did I realize then, that in my hands laid something that would enslave me for the rest of my life. Often, I believed that the root cause of my passion for it originates from the fact that as kids we were always controlled and denied the right to embrace this sinful thing with our mouths. I vividly recall a dream about having a chocolate fountain in my hostel dorm the night I saw “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. And yes, I did feel a stab in my heart when the 5 golden tickets were out and Charlie Bucket hadn’t got any. I sure felt his pain (Of course, that kid didn’t share his joy with me after he found the ticket ;)). There were times when I actually prayed to Swami to have Dairy milk distributed to us on darshan days. It made my heart jump with joy if there was a huge colorful chocolate cake (baked by foreign devotees) in the Sai Kulwanth Hall.

Now, all grown up, I wonder “Why doesn’t this desperation to have a bite die”? Oh! Yes, I am addicted, proudly. Its not the rules or restrictions imposed on me, it is purely passion. Sometimes, quite thinking races my mind back to IMAX, Hyd. This was the place where my dream came to reality, the chocolate fountain. I fantasize picking up marshmallows, running the sexy syrup over them, opening my big wide mouth and enjoying it. The gates to heaven open only when you lick the syrup off your fingers and lips with a loud smack. The only way reality hits me hard, is the voice of the storekeeper saying “Madam, Do you want another one because other people are waiting”. Every time, the guy says this I vow to myself that one day I will be rich enough to have my very own chocolate fountain right in my living room. Coming back to licking chocolate off your fingers, I thank my school for not allowing us to use the refrigerator, as my life would have been totally purposeless if I hand’t known the bliss of the melted chocolate.  Me and my friends find absurd pleasure in waiting for the chocolate to melt and then licking it off our fingers. Trust me, I feel shamelessly guilty for believing that it’s better than kissing my boyfriend.

God is one, he is worshiped in a number of forms. Cocoa is one, and I worship its every other form. Be it a C. cake, C. brownie, C. ice cream, C. slush/shake, C. candy bar, C. coffee (dangerous love), C. gloss/perfume, C. milk, C. sauce, and the list can go on and on. It is however not complete without the Lindt chocolates. These are tiny drops of an adjective that hasn’t been defined yet. Nuts become wondrous drugs when added to chocolate. I share a level of compatibility with nuts, because the nuttier- the tastier. They can be unbearably nutty and you can still keep up with them :P.  On every visit to India, I carry about 20 lbs of ecstasy wrapped up in small packets. When my mom sits down and opens everything into a cauldron, to do the mix and match with equal distribution, I secretly wish I could keep everything to myself. I am quite unsure how much truth lies in the myth that chocolate controls depression, but I sincerely hope it is the prescribed drug to every disease. That is because in the literal sense it is a drug and I am addicted to it!